Once you have all of the necessary breastfeeding supplies for work, you should use them before your first day back. During your maternity leave, it is a good idea to try to store up some breast milk. To do this, you feed your infant at the breast on your usual schedule and then pump both breasts for ten to fifteen minutes once a day. If you are pumping to increase your milk supply, it is important to pump after you feed the baby at the breast and not before so your baby is not both hungry and mad. The exact time of day that you pump to make extra milk is less important than pumping at a consistent time. Pick a time that is relatively quiet such as when older kids are either at school for the day or asleep for the night and the baby is napping. If you start pumping extra milk when the baby is two to three weeks old, at first you may pump only an ounce or two with each session. By using the supply and demand mechanism of lactation to trick your body into thinking it is feeding twins, you will be pumping an additional four to six ounces per day in two to three days. If you pump four to six ounces once a day for six weeks during your maternity leave, then before you return to work, you will have forty-two extra bags of milk. As experienced lactating physician-mothers, we’ve found this cushion to be essential. The frozen milk can be used when you are busy during the day, on call at night, when your milk letdown does not occur because you are too worried about a patient or a grant, or you forget your pumped milk at work.
At some point during the next year, you are likely to forget your pumped milk at work in a bag with freezer packs designed to stay cool for only twelve hours. If you do not want to drive back to work just to rescue the milk and you cannot reach a colleague still at work who would be willing to move the bag to the refrigerator so it does not go bad overnight, then you will have to dump it out the next day when you come in. The forty-two bag cushion will help you avoid feeding your baby formula in any of these circumstances.